05/22/2012 05:55 pm ET Updated Jul 22, 2012

We Are Not All Artists the Same

We are not all artists the same. Process and purpose varies. Success and how we define it can
look so different from person to person. Gifts and talents make each of us so indelibly unique
that competition is pointless but we get lost in it anyway...

We are not all artists the same and yet... I cannot help but feel drawn to other artists. I cannot help but feel connected to others who consider themselves craftsmen, who devote their lives to
creation. And I think that we all find ourselves drawn to those who seem to have direct access to that "God Thing." That thing makes us want to believe again. That thing encourages us on one more day.

Great men have the ability to make us feel as though we can be great also.

In my final year at University, I was the recipient of a scholarship given by the Princess Grace
Foundation. It enabled me to complete my education that year without financial hardship. The
Princess Grace Foundation has put me in touch with a community of artists and supporters of the Arts the likes of which I wish for any and every single person in the struggle. It continues to be a great inspiration to me to know that there are people out there who believe in my path and want me to make work that comes from the depth of my heart.

I have real love for the artist. I have respect for your dreams. I want you to win. I want you to
persevere. I want you to to take heart when the realities of the business break you down because, brethren, the realities of the business will break you down.

I remember first starting out, feeling ignored and disrespected so often. The first challenge was
just getting noticed. Getting seen was the first hurdle and I have to tell you... it lasts awhile. I
think the beginnings are the same in whatever artistic discipline we're in. You're a new face.
You're a new talent. You're a new voice. No one has any idea what you bring to the table. You
must accept this stage and commit yourself to delivering the goods every single time you get an opportunity.

It is true that when you begin the stakes are through the roof when you're first starting out. Every meeting, every audition, every interview is vital and crucial to getting you to where want to be. Even the ones where you are ignored or "disrespected" prepare you in a way. They toughen your skin. You'll need that. Make excellence habitual.

Make sanity a priority. Surround yourself with people who do the same. Stay inspired! Refill the
well. Be a fan of artists whom you love! Remain a student always!

One of the things I know for sure is: the issues in your life affect your work and the issues found in your work are showing up somewhere else in your life. This is a spiritual walk as well. Ask the questions. Go in search of the answers. It is my belief that we all have access to God and so in turn we all have access to the "God Thing."

After you've done all the study and prep possible there is still a great deal that you have
absolutely no control of in the business. A relationship with God will help you to deal with that
difficult truth. I say it in love. I say it because the business has made mincemeat of more gifted
and talented people than I...

It's no joke, beloved. But you can do it. Prepare yourself. Dedicate yourself to it. Love it.

Have the courage to dream a new dream if IT doesn't turn out the way you want it to.

IT almost never does by the way...

We need you. We need your voice. We need your truth. I look forward to meeting you someday
soon out here. We will swap stories of survival and triumph. We'll tell of heartache and
disappointment. But oh how much better we'll be for it all.

Respectfully yours,
Leslie Odom Jr.